The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka ( si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා ආණ්ඩුක්‍රම ව්‍යවස්ථාව, Śrī Laṃkā āndukrama vyavasthāva, ta, இலங்கை அரசியலமைப்பின், Ilaṅkai araciyalamaippiṉ) has been the
constitution A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of entity and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed. When these prin ...
of the island nation of Sri Lanka since its original promulgation by the
National State Assembly The National State Assembly (NSA) was the legislative body of Sri Lanka established in May 1972 under the First Republican Constitution. The assembly was introduced by Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike under the United Front Government repl ...
on 7 September 1978. it has been formally amended 21 times. It is Sri Lanka's second republican constitution, replacing the
Sri Lankan Constitution of 1972 The Sri Lankan Constitution of 1972 was a constitution of Sri Lanka, replaced by the 1978 constitution currently in force. It was Sri Lanka's first republican constitution, and its second since independence in 1948. The constitution changed t ...
, its third constitution since the country received independence within the British Commonwealth as the Dominion of Ceylon in 1948, and its fourth constitution overall.

Former constitutions of Sri Lanka

;Donoughmore Constitution ;Soulbury Constitution Under the
Soulbury Constitution The Soulbury Commission ( si, සෝල්බරි කොමිෂන් සභාව ''Solbari Komishan Sabhawa''; ta, சோல்பரி ஆணைக்குழு), announced in 1944 was, like its predecessor, the Donoughmore Commission, a ...
which consisted of The Ceylon Independence Act, 1947 and The Ceylon (Constitution and Independence) Orders in Council 1947, Sri Lanka was then known as
Ceylon Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...
. The Soulbury Constitution provided a parliamentary form of Government for Ceylon and for a Judicial Service Commission and a Public Service Commission.
Minority rights Minority rights are the normal individual rights as applied to members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, linguistic or gender and sexual minorities, and also the collective rights accorded to any minority group. Civil-rights movements ...
were safeguarded by Article 29(2) of the Constitution. The Governor-General (The Representative of the Monarch of Ceylon who was also the Monarch of the United Kingdom), the Senate and the House of Representatives exercised legislative power. The House of Representatives consisted of 101 Members, of which 95 were elected by universal suffrage and 6 were nominated by the Governor-General. That total number was increased to 151 by the 1959 Delimitation Commission and the term of the House was 5 years The
S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike ( si, සොලොමන් වෙස්ට් රිජ්වේ ඩයස් බණ්ඩාරනායක; ta, சாலமன் வெஸ்ட் ரிட்ஜ்வே டயஸ் ப ...
Government set up a Joint Select Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider a revision of the Constitution on 10 January 1958 but the committee was unable to come to a final conclusion on account of the propagation of Parliament on 23 May 1959. A similar attempt by the Dudley Senanayake Government was failed due to such a propagation on 22 June 1968 too. The Senate consisted of 30 Members (elected 15 by the House and 15 by the Governor -General) was abolished on 2 October 1971. Amendments * 29 of 1954 on 06.07.1954 to amend section 29(2) to enable enactment of Act Nos.35 & 36 of 1954 * 35 of 1954 on 16.07.1954 to increase the number of Members to 105 for a specified period and to terminate the services of the then existing Delimitation Commissioners. * 36 of 1954 on 16.07.1954 to make provision for the election of Members of the House of Representatives to represent persons registered as citizens of Ceylon under the Indian and Pakistani Residents (Citizenship) Act No.3 of 1949. * 4 of 1959 on 06.02.1959 to appoint a Delimitation Commission; to amend section 47 regarding delegation of power to Parliamentary Secretaries and to repeal Act Nos. 35 &36 of 1954. * 71 of 1961 on 30.12.1961 to include "Election judge" under section 55. * 8 of 1964 on 12.03.1964 to place the post of Commissioner of Elections in the Constitution and to make financial provision to conduct elections. * 29 of 1970 on 18.11.1970 to permit public officers (other than those in specified categories) to contest elections, and to make them eligible to be elected or nominated to the Senate. * 36 of 1971 on 02.10.1971 to abolish the Senate. ; ;Republican Constitution
Sirimavo Bandaranaike Sirima Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike ( si, සිරිමා රත්වත්තේ ඩයස් බණ්ඩාරනායක; ta, சிறிமா ரத்வத்தே டயஸ் பண்டாரநாயக்கே; 17 April 191 ...
came to office as the world's first woman Prime Minister in May 1970. Her United Front Government used the parliament as a Constituent Assembly and drafted a new Republican Constitution. It was promulgated on 22 May 1972. This Constitution provided for a unicameral legislature named the National State Assembly with a term of office of 6 years and Sovereignty was entirely vested in it. A nominal President with a term of office of 4 years was appointed as the Head of State by the Prime Minister, Head of the Cabinet of Ministers responsible to the National State assembly. Ceylon was replaced by republic of Sri Lanka (Resplendent Island). This constitution containing a declaration of fundamental rights and freedom was amended on 11 February 1975 to change the basis of delimitation of constituencies from 75,000 persons per electorate to 90,000 persons. J. R. Jayewardene who came to office in July 1977 with a five-sixths majority passed the second amendment to the 1972 Constitution on 4 October 1977, which made the presidency an executive post. Under its provisions, then Prime Minister Jayawardene automatically became the first Executive President of Sri Lanka on 4 February 1978.

Background to the 1978 Constitution

Before the 1977 general election the UNP had sought a mandate from the people to adopt a new constitution. Accordingly, a select committee was appointed to consider the revision of the existing Constitution. The new Constitution, promulgated on 7 September 1978, provided for a unicameral parliament and an Executive President. The term of office of the president and the duration of parliament were both set at six years. The new Constitution also introduced a form of multi-member proportional representation for elections to parliament, which was to consist of 196 members (subsequently increased to 225 by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution). The Constitution provided for an independent judiciary and guaranteed
fundamental rights Fundamental rights are a group of rights that have been recognized by a high degree of protection from encroachment. These rights are specifically identified in a constitution, or have been found under due process of law. The United Nations' Sustai ...
, providing for any aggrieved person to invoke the Supreme Court for any violation of their fundamental rights. The Constitution also provided for a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) who could investigate public grievances against government institutions and state officers and give redress. It also introduced anti-defection laws, and referendums on certain bills and on issues of national importance.

Current Constitution

Provisions for amendment

Most provisions of the Constitution of Sri Lanka can be amended by a two-thirds majority in parliament. However, the amendment of certain basic features such as the clauses on language, religion, and reference to Sri Lanka as a unitary state require both a two-thirds majority and approval at a nationwide referendum.

Amendments to date


External links

Website of the Parliament of Sri Lanka — ConstitutionConstitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka with Amendments incorporated up to the 19th Amendment
{{Politics of Sri Lanka navbox Government of Sri Lanka Law of Sri Lanka